Are you someone who’s very outgoing, with a ready smile and easily talk to people you don’t know? If you are, then have I ever got a job for you!
We moved across the country this summer, so I have spent the last few months seeking out new “stomping grounds” so to speak – the grocery store, the mall, the post office, shoe stores, fun little shopping places to just sight-see, etc. I’ve had a blast because I love being out among people and love exploring new places. Here, there is a plethora of little clothing shops, grocery/convenience stores, resale/consignment stores, furniture and interior decorating shops, as well as every variety food/drink shops/restaurants/casinos. Except for the casinos, you bet I have been making my rounds in exploration! Until this past weekend, though, the one necessary place for me personally that I had not visited yet was a church. Funny how the thought of visiting this one particular venue would leave me feeling apprehensive and nervous. Can you relate?
Well, last week I decided it was time I dug in and found a likely church to visit. Since I am a praying person, I dutifully called up God and laid my petition at His feet; “Please oh my Father in Heaven, help me find the right church to attend – one that has great music, comfortable seats, makes me feel good, and is preferably not very far from home – Amen!”
After looking online for likely prospects, none jumped out at me. Then a flyer came in the mail for a big church that sounded interesting, so excitedly I looked it up. Wow – it looked and sounded amazing! Good music, casual dress and there was even a plan a visit button on the webpage and I bit the bullet and clicked it! I entered the time/day that I would visit and hit the send button. And the next day I got a reply back! So, on Sunday, I strapped on my courage, carefully applied my batting-my-eye-lashes enhancer and pretty pink cheeks and smile, sprayed on my going-out half a can of hair spray, donned my confidence enhancing 4 1/2” platform heels (as I’m a shorty at 5’3”), my favorite dark wash jeans and flowy pretty top and away I went.
Of course, I was a little late leaving the house after all the primping and as I was driving, my nerves chimed in with worrying little comments like “your shoes are too bright,” “your jeans are too tight for church,” “your shirt is too sheer,” “they might not like your makeup,” “your hair is too poufy,” and so on. You ever heard those annoying little voices? Ugghh! But once again, I called up God and asked Him to prepare the way for me: “Oh please, God, help me get there, don’t let me turn around! And please help me go in the right door and find the auditorium quickly and please let there be a seat right on the end of an aisle that I can just slip into. And please, oh please let there be someone to direct me if I get lost!”
Now, for anyone who knows me very well, they would not believe I would ever be or sound that insecure. But sometimes I am. Yep, I am. Downright pathetic sometimes. How about you – ever struggle with those feelings? Seriously, I think we all do, right?
Well, I get to the church, I find a close up spot in “First-time Visitor parking,” and there’s a big door marked #1 right in front of me, and a slew of people are walking toward and through it. Awesome! No problem, I got this.
I get to the door and a friendly gentleman opens it and gives me a smiling “hello.” Nice! I walk in and look around and see a ton of people milling about – yikes!! This is getting a little scary…now what? Well…as I hesitantly look around, I notice that all these people seem to be smiling and laughing and they look friendly – oh…hmmm…I might like this! And there to my right is a big sign “Auditorium” and thankfully I enter. Wow – it’s dim, it’s huge, it’s full, but the most amazing music is reverbing off the walls and beautiful colors are streaming the platform where a band is swaying and moving and singing and playing their hearts out! And it’s loud and vibing and perfectly beautiful! And they are singing about God! And my heart is at once happy.
But I need to find a seat – oh no – where??? There must be a thousand people in here! I begin to walk down the far right isle, my nerves jangling and a little claustrophobia grabs a hold of me. Oh, God, I’m not going to find a seat! But no worries – a nice lady with a big smile motions to a few empty seats inside her row. Oh thank you Ma’am! I squeeze into the row, but find I have an empty seat on either side of me – thank You God – I will be ok while I get my first-time-there bearings – whew!
The music is fantastic and stirs my heart, my spirt, and reminds me how much I have been missing this the last few months. I get lost in it. The pastor gets up (in his jeans and button down shirt) and lets us know that he is not there because he is the pastor – no, he is there because he is a mess without God, just like the rest of us. He’s just like the rest of us. But God cleans us up. All of us. Yes, me too. You, too. No matter who we are or what kind of mess we are in. I feel so good. My insecurities fade away.
The service ends and I walk into the atrium wondering how will I find the welcome center to meet the lady from the email. Eeeeek there are so many people and I can’t see anything! Hammering heart! Oh no – I must look stupid – and in my hesitance I’m getting in everyone’s way! What do I do??? Maybe I should just find the door and leave. Oh, but I really like this place, I really would like to meet someone and feel like I belong. I need to belong somewhere. Then I hear a cheery “Can I help you find something?” I look and there is a good looking, smiling, 30-something guy looking right at me. He has a name tag around his neck and is in jeans too! Oh thank You again, God!
To make a long story short (or at least short-ER) he directs me and after the assistance of several smiling, friendly people, I find the Visitor area and more smiling, friendly faces. The most lovely, friendly lady assisted me, loading me with info, CD, books, etc, and not one, but two big hugs! Wow – I feel so GOOD!
Thanks to all the friendly, smiling, willing to help people, my nerve-wracking adventure turned into a glorious experience I will remember always. And I think I may have found my new church home, my place to belong! Oh yippee-yay, I am so happy!!
So, the moral of the story – and the job I have for you is this – be friendly! While out enjoying yourself with friends, coworkers, etc, be alert to those around you. Reach out with your bright, inviting smile and give a friendly “hello” to someone you see. You never know who might be feeling insecure and in need of a little encouragement or direction from a friendly face. Who knows, you might just keep someone from running back home insecure and afraid – like me! And you know – even better yet – become a volunteer and share your awesomeness with many ♥
Love and peace – Mindy